Sunday, 27 February 2011

Apple TV 2

It's my birthday on Tuesday, yay me, and my wife game me £100 to spend to get my birthday present. Now £100 isn't a lot of money really for someone as obsessed with gadgets as myself. So I narrowed it down to 3 choices. Nintendo DSi, Kinect for the Xbox 360 or Apple TV. If you read the post title I would imagine you guessed that I brought the Apple TV.
I have been impressed with it since Steve Jobs announced it last year so I decided that would be the correct purchase for me. Now I'm at a cross roads tho. Do I, or don't I jailbreak it.
Without jailbreaking it, it is basically a box I can rent iTunes movies on. But I have a sneaky idea that Apple will announce an app store for it soon, maybe even on Wednesday. What makes me think this? For a start ATV has 8GB of storage, yet doesn't store anything. Yes it needs a little space for iOS and for buffering the stream you are watching or listening too, but not 8GB. Also apps have started for it already. Jailbreak it and you can install weather widgets, xbmc, and plex. I can't see Apple sitting by the side while they could be making money from selling apps for the device.
Therefore I think I will wait till Wednesday and see what happens, then maybe jailbreak it on the Thursday....

Thursday, 24 February 2011

New MacBook Pro's

Well, just to spoil my predictions for next weeks media event, or to celebrate Steve Job's birthday, (Happy Birthday Steve if you are reading this), Apple went ahead and announced the new MacBook Pro today.
Long over due, some say, Apple's flagship laptops are now looking decidedly tasty;

(15 - 17 Inch Versions)
2.0gHz - 2.2gHz Quad i7 Core Intel Sandy Bridge Processors
4GB RAM (Expandable upto 8GB)
500GB - 750GB Hard Drive
AMD 6490M Graphics with 256MB Video RAM or AMD 6750M Graphics with 1GB Video RAM

Prices coming in at, you might want to sit down if your not already, $1799 - $2499. Not cheap for a laptop, or a desktop for that matter. Of course you could have the 13 inch version, with runs on dual i5 chips, and has Intel HD graphics processors. But they still come in at $1199 - $1499 depending on spec.
All of the above come with the normal input ports, such as USB, SD Card slot etc, but Apple has also introduced a hybrid Thunderbolt/mini Display port on the new MacBook Pros. This represents Intel's Light Peak technology which is said to offer high speed connections and is expected to replace the need for USB 3.0. Also they have included a HD iSight camera for all your Facetime needs, (plus I just had to fork out 59p for the official 1.0 version of Facetime, but these come with it free.)
Shame my current MacBook is only a year old, or I might have to rob a bank and get one of these beauties! Sadly I feel my wife might kick my ass if I got one....

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Apple release iPad2 2nd of March??

Its official! The 2nd of March is going to be the unveiling of the new iPad. Apple have announced that on their media event will be in San Francisco, with the tag line, "Come see what 2011 will be the year of".
This of course means they are more then likely going to release details of products other then the iPad. At best guess I think they will be the following;

- iPad 2 (Of course, their is a dam picture of it in the press release...)
- iOS 4.3 to be released on the same day, hopefully, maybe even a preview of iOS 5 probably for release in June when the iPhone 5 is due to be announced.
- New service! Its rumoured that Apple are creating positions in their bricks and mortar stores for business support. Its likely to be Apple Genius's that answer support calls from businesses signed upto the scheme, as well as visit sites for installs and repairs. Current Apple Genius's can't answer phone support or support off site.
- More of OS X Lion. It wont be the release, as Apple have already said that it wont be released until the summer, and the beta isn't even out yet.
- MacBook Pro refresh. Lighter, more powerful, Sandy Bridge chipset, Intel Graphics, and Light Peak ports, apparently renamed "Thunderbolt".
- White iPhone 4. Come on Apple, its about time!!
- Something to do with MobileMe. Either new services, and or making it free.

Those are my guesses. Would love to see something about the mini iPhone, but that is more then likely going to be announced when the iPhone 5 is announced, it just makes sense. I would imagine the media event will be streamed live over the internet, as long as you have a mac or iOS device. Sadly I am working late that day, therefore I wont be able to watch as my workplace is dell only God dam it!!!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Death of the Tablet computer?

After predicting the rise of the Slates this year, I fear the revolution could be over before it has begun. Let's get one thing straight. Tablets/Slate computers fit in between smart phones and your general laptop. They are for things like surfing the internet when you can't be bothered to boot your main PC and when your phone screen is too small for what your upto, and of course for playing Angry Birds.
They have no optical drive, and tend to have limited storage, at best around 64GB. They, at the moment, can not replace the Dell machine on your desk or lap. 
And yet the price of them is insane. The new Xoom is a good example. $600 on a 2 year contract, or a stupid price of $800 without said contract. For that price you could buy a fairly decent 17 inch laptop, 4GB of RAM, atleast 500GB hard drive and an optical drive that will let you rip and burn all the music and movies you feel like.
Apple have had amazing success with the iPad, £429, which is still alot, but when you consider a entry level Apple laptop is £879 its all relative. For half the price of the laptop you get a device which can do half the things. Can't rip music, can't watch DVD's, and can't import your camera pictures out of the box.
Now take HP's new WebOS tablet. Rumoured to be priced around the £500 mark, their entry level laptop, £350. It just doesn't make sence and it gets worse. 
Samsung Tab £429, Samsung laptop £300. And the tab is only 7 inches! Dell Streak, (marketed as a tablet) £429 without contract and only 5 inches, Dell 15 inch laptop £300.
Prices like this only attract geeks like me. They are no good for the average person on the street at sometimes double the price of the netbooks they are supposed to be replacing.
Of course you could buy a Chinese ePad for around £140, but for the love of God, don't. For these to actually take off, companies like Samsung and HP need to go back to their laptop price structures, half the price of Apple for similar specs and half the looks...

Monday, 21 February 2011

My top five tech tips for this year

Here are my personal top five tech tips of this year. The five fields I can see really coming into their own, and changing everything...again...

Internet Streaming;
This year I can see this completely going to the next level. Last year we saw things like BBC iPlayer take off completely, coming to multiable devices, such as Blu-Ray players, PS3 and BT Vision. Sky Player too has come on leaps and bounds, no longer restricted to stuffy old Beige Windows Boxes, and hitting things like Xbox 360. 
This year I expect more. More OnDemand. More of what I want, when I want it, and Im not talking about stupid YouTube! Sky is again leading the way, (with an idea pinched from BT Vision) in updating its Anytime to Anytime+. More programs available, and all downloaded through your broadband. The killer part of this being its free also.
Im going to stick my neck out as well, and say this year I expect Netflix to actually come to the UK. LoveFilm has started streaming movies, but they are mostly shite. Time for it to be done properly.

3D TV;
Last year saw 3D TV take off big time…Im not really sure why, but it did. I mean, who actually wants to sit in front of the TV wearing stupid glasses, and my god, the cost! But I expect this year to be all about glasses free 3D TV. The tech is already out there. Next week the Nintendo 3DS comes out. LG and Samsung have HUGE 3D TV's coming out which are glasses free, so I can see this taking off. Shame no one can be bothered to invent something that makes normal HDTV's 3D though, kinda a cheap option, but it would help get 3D TV into main stream houses, instead of the rich…or plain stupid…

Cloud Computing;
Its coming! In many ways its already here.What with MobileMe, DropBox, and all the cloud goodness Google provide, its hear to stay, and it can only get better! Admittedly upload speeds need to get better, and they are starting too. But with the amount of information that we currently carry around with us, on phones, laptops, office PC, home PC, etc, we do need somewhere to store everything we need, on everything we use! 
Rumour has it that MobileMe is about to become free, which if that is true, will be HUGE news. Automatically sync'ing contacts, photo's, videos. calendars etc, all in the background. Yes I know Google already do this, and yes it is free, but have always found MobileMe a better experience. Also the next version of OS X, (Lion) is supposed to have some kind of cloud based Storage Safe for important docs. I can really see cloud computing coming of age this year.

Smart Phones;
Ever since the launch of the Apple iPhone, smart phones have become big business. Nearly everyone I know has one now, and they are getting better and better each time a new one is released. The new Galaxy S 2 from samsung looks amazing, as does the Motorola Atrix 4G, which when put into a dock actually becomes a laptop!! I think that this year is probably the 'Dumb' phones last.

Tablet Computing;
Last year we saw the best, (iPad), and the worse, (Im looking at you stupid ePad of a billion models) but this year the rest of the big boys hit the market. HP with a webOS tablet, which looks divine, Blackberry with its Playbook, LG with a 3D Android offering, and no doubt a million cheap chinese pads, running Windows 7 Starter that just doesn't work with a touch screen.
The days of a Beige box in the corner of the room are truly gone. From now on I see laptops, and slates, with gamers turning to consoles to get their kicks.
Some of the Slates I have seen really look like they can take on the iPad, but, Apple are about to announce the new one, so this year has to be the year of the Slate.

Does everyone hate Apple?

Nearly everytime I open up my web browser my first three stops are, and Basically I am just being a geek, and like to keep upto date with what's going on in the world of 'Gadg'.
For a while now I have been amazed by some of the comments on these sites, as most of them tend to be about hating Apple and cursing Steve Jobs. For the life of me I can't understand why people hate Apple. Unlike sure. I unlike mushrooms, but just don't order them on my pizza, not spit out bile about them in a fruit and beg forum. Hate is a strong word. Hate would be preferring to have your nuts cut off instead of buying an iMac.
All any website has to do is print something to do with Apple and suddenly it is set upon by the Apple lynch mob. 'I hate Apple', 'MacBooks are over expensive tosh' and '256mb and no flash player? The iPad is shite' are common comments. Sure you are well within your rights to not buy that new Mac Mini, but no need to slag an entire company off just because it doesn't play your favorite game.
I am not a fanboy. But I do like Apple gear. Looks great and is so simple to use! I know I can buy a similar spec machine for half the price, could even install OSX and make a hackintosh. But I prefer to spend my money at Apple. For example my five year old MacBook can out run my Quad Core Windows box still. And I'm sure if I had brought a similar laptop instead, it would be dead and buried by now.
Apple don't do themselves any favors, like locking down the iPhone and iPad so they can only install App Store apps, but by doing so it means they can control the quality of content, and almost eliminate the risk of viruses and malware.
Apple isn't a cult. It's just people deciding they don't want a dell, or run Windows, and can't be bothered with messing around with Linux. If someone asks me to recommend a computer I don't automatically say Apple. I'll ask what they are going to use it for, and how much they are willing to spend.
I know Apple are doing well right now and I think that's the main problem. Human nature tends to dislike anyone succeeding, we would all much prefer to see people fail. Of course there is always the jealousy option. Some people can't afford it, so they knock it instead. But I think the more likely reason is that they haven't grown up yet, and have never been told 'if you have nothing good to say...shut the fuck up'. Just my two cents...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

What I want to see in the iPad2

May, 2010. I had actually saved up enough money to buy, lets face it, the worlds first slate computer you could actually use. The Apple iPad. Many people said that I was a fool. That it was just an over priced, over sized iPod Touch. But I didn't care. It is a beautiful piece of design, and in my opinion possibly the most important piece for tech to come out since the desktop PC. Yes it only runs iOS, not OS X, but is that a bad thing? A lot of people have asked me, "What is an iPad?" well, it is basically anything you want it to be. If I want to listen to my favourite radio stations, I fire up TuneIn. If I want to write a letter, I open up Pages. And if I want to lose an entire day of life I play Angry Birds.
Now the technological world is awaiting news about the iPad2. Apple tend to have refreshes of their products every 12 months or so, so its almost a given that in the next couple of weeks they will announce the new version, no doubt with a whole array of new features. This leaves me with a decision, do I upgrade my favourite piece of computing kit, or do I hold out, maybe even look at the new Android slates, or heaven forbid, Windows 7 slates.
I feel that Apple did leave out some things from the first, that would have made the iPad unbeatable, even by the new slates that were announced this month. First of all, a front facing camera. The iPad was announced in all its splendour in March. Then in June, Apple announced the new iPhone 4 with facetime. Why Mr Jobs did you not put a front facing camera in the iPad?? What I have seen of Facetime on both the iPhone/4G iPod Touch and the Mac, I have been very impressed. Yes I know, you need a wifi network to use it instead of using 3G, but the quality of the app is outstanding, and it has finally brought about the era of video calling. My old Nokia 6680 from 2005 had video calls, so it has taken over 6 years for it to actually catch on. I really am not fussed about having a rear camera. The iPad to too large to use as a camera/camcorder. But I think a front facing camera is a must for the second generation.
People have said that it is likely to have the Retina display, but I doubt that. It would increase cost too much. One thing the iPad has over Android slates at the moment is the price, and I doubt Apple will change this until the Retina display can be made cheaper.
I would love to see the second iPad be alittle lighter. When in its case, it tends to make your wrist ache after a lot of use, so shaving off a few ounce's couldn't hurt.
Battery life is excellent, I don't think Apple need to change that at all. But maybe a dual processor, and more RAM, (256MB does seem alittle small even though you don't notice) would be great, but would probably effect battery life, so maybe the battery would need to change after all.
I have seen a lot of moans online about iOS. But I actually like it. If I want OS X or Windows then I boot up my MacBook. I would love to see a Slate only version of iOS. Like Android have done with Honeycomb. There seems to be a lot of screen space wasted with the current iOS. Its fine with an iPhone or iPod, but with the iPad it just seems wasted. Would be great to have widgets etc on your homescreen.
So, to recap;

1) Front Facing Camera, cant believe it was missed the first time!!!
2) Lighter.
3) Dual Processor, More RAM.
4) A slate only version of iOS.

If Apple tick 3 of those boxes, I think I will upgrading my current version. If not, I just hope they bring out a portable iSight cam for the first generation.......